lots going on

Hey I got the computer again! I have lots to talk about too, and as usual these humans are confusing me so much, so here goes!

Last week Jen only had to work one day so we didn’t have to get the bus much. I got to go for dinner with all the family and there was cake and singing afterwards. I didn’t have a clue what that was all about and then I saw Jen taking stuff out of paper and people reading stuff from bits of cardboard, and I heard the dreaded word “birthday” and then I realised I should have remembered this. Ooops! Well this all happened the day before her birthday and then she went away to London without me, so she didn’t deserve a present anyway.

I had a great time with Jen’s dad when she was away. I went to the beach and lay beside the warm fire and I didn’t have to get my harness on once. He always drops more crumbs on the floor so I love it when I’m with him on my own. haha. Jen said I would have been ok at the lion king, but I would have hated the escalators and so many people in London. They would have had to get taxis or buses and the hotel room was too small for me. I think I saved them some money by not going! She said she wishes she had me in Harrods with her though. Her mum used to work there so they went to have a look, and I think when Jen saw pet kingdom she nearly died. Thankfully she didn’t. She said it was nearly as entertaining as the lion king!

People keep asking Jen if she is bored because she isn’t working as much as she was before, but I don’t think she has been this busy in ages. Just last week she was talking about going to a conference in Lithuania but then the people who told her she had a place told her she hadn’t. I think they just said that when they found out that I don’t have a passport yet and couldn’t go. There’s talk of her going to Dublin next week for some awards thing she won tickets for, but its too loud for me. Could I not stay with somebody who will pet me and play with me in Dublin when she’s there? I hear I might be going to Belfast on Friday so I’m excited. I love it there. Jen rang a couple of people today to see how much it would be to have me “professionally groomed.” Now what in the name of dog does that involve? It better not hurt. It better be nicer than the vet when he does that horrible thing that hurts. Ouch!

Before I go off to bed, I have to congratulate
on his nomination for the Irish blog awards. Well done for getting this far, and well deserved.

Woof woof OJ x

Dublin and London

I mentioned last week that I was going to Dublin to take part in
Lawler live
with Stuart. I had a lovely relaxing weekend and was looked after very well by himself and his girlfriend. O.J and her guide dog got on very well and ran around like mad things! They all tried their best to teach O.J to bark on command, but that seems to be a german shepherd thing.
The show was supposed to last two hours but we broadcast for three and a half.We had lots of great feedback and callers during it and it was great fun. There is an edited version on Stuart’s site, and you can also find a link to the whole show, if you have a lot of time to spare! Its worth it for the mixture of music and the random discussions, and the conversations make more sense.

Travelling there last weekend has made me want to travel more with O.J on my own. Its interesting when you don’t have a clue where you are going and have to depend on strangers. You have to try and not be shy, and you have some interesting conversations with people. Some members of the public are annoying but generally they were very friendly.

I’m going to London on thursday to see the ‘lion king’ musical. I’m not bringing O.J because I’m going with my mum and sister and will have plenty of help getting around. Also, he isn’t trained to go on escalators and hates shopping so it wouldn’t be fair. My dad can watch him for the two days we are away. The theatre are very helpful though, because they say on their website that they will watch guide dogs in the reception. This is a brilliant idea and I wish venues in Ireland would offer to do this. It would be very useful if your dog became uncomfortable with the noise during a performance, or if you simply wanted to go somewhere and couldn’t leave the dog on its own. Its crap that I don’t get to spend my birthday with my favourite big pup, but I’ve wanted to see the lion king for years so I’m really looking forward to it. There is no audio described performance that night unfortunately. I’m hoping we can get in early and I can get a touch tour and see what the costumes are like. That would be great.

Some other stuff:
I took my nephew and our Spanish students with me for my radio show today and they loved it. I thought they would be shy when they saw the microphone but they were great. That show will be broadcast next Sunday between 8 and 9 pm. Plug plug!
O.J had to have his anal glands done again (I know people were wondering how he got on since last time because its so exciting!!) The brans obviously helped a bit but I do forget to give it to him, a lot! He needs more exercise this week so we’re going walking tomorrow. He doesn’t know that yet!
Before I finish, check out
shave or dye campaign
for the Irish cancer society. It finishes on thursday. I was going to split a donation between a few of my favourite presenters but decided to donate it all to Alison Curtis because her show is finishing up on Thursday. My favourite radio show is no more. Not fair!

Currently listening to: the Canadian queen of broadcasting

Lawler Live

I’m going to Dublin tomorrow for the weekend. I’m meeting
Stuart Lawler
And I’m going to be in the studio when he presents his show ‘Lawler live’ on Saturday afternoon at 3 PM. Have a look at his website:
for more details about the show. You can also find out how to contact the show when its live, through twitter, MSN or by email. I’m sure Stuart wouldn’t mind some new listeners saying hello, and the show is good fun.

Don’t forget my own radio show (which still doesn’t have a name) is on Sunday night at 8 pm, and its a valentines special!

lots of stuff

My first week (two day week) of work in my new job went well. OJ got a bit lost when we got off the bus the first day, but I think it was because he was so nosey and not concentrating. He seems happy in the new office, when he eventually stops looking around him and gets us there. The work is so easy you could do it with your eyes closed!
Working two days and doing my radio show another day means that I have to be organised during the week to get all the stuff I want done. I’m trying to walk O.J a lot more because he’s put on a tiny bit of weight. People don’t notice it, but I do. I can feel the slight difference through his harness because I put it on so many times every day.

Yesterday O.J and I went to the primary school to see Keri. I’ve mentioned her before. She’s blind and I’ve been meeting her since she started school. Its great to see her growing up and learning so much. She’s intelligent, funny, a hard worker and an excellent singer. I wish I had her confidence when I was eight years old. Not sure if I even have that much now haha. The school is doing brilliant work for her and I’m happy to help when I can.
Yesterday she told me that she is an author now, and showed us the story she wrote. I’m hoping to record her reading it soon, then add music to it and put it on cd for her. She told me she wants to be a vet when she is older, and she wants to drive a car. Then she thought about it and decided that she would probably be too blind to drive a car but that someone could drive her around. I love her logic!

Her teacher wanted me to come and talk to the class, and I was a bit surprised that they still had so many questions about guide dogs, even though they see O.J a few times a year. One child asked how O.J lets me know when we’re coming to steps. I explained how he stops at the top until I tell him to go forward and walk down them. When we’re going up steps he puts his paws on the first step and waits until he’s told to walk on. After the break I went back to the class because they still had more questions, and another child asked the steps question. The teacher said, where you not listening the first time? and another child said, “did you not see him doing it when you were walking back to the classroom?” They are very observant!

I’m looking for a name for my radio show. Its definitely being broadcast every Sunday evening between 8 and 9 on
Sometimes the online stream doesn’t work, and it always seems to go off during the weekend. I play a mixture of indi, rock, alternative and folk music, so the name can’t really be specific to one type. Any suggestions would be really appreciated!
I have to pre-record the show because of the location of the studio and time that the show is broadcast. In an ideal world I’d have my own studio in my house. Anyway, the fact that its recorded means that I can’t interact with listeners during the show, and this would make it much easier to find things to talk about. If you want a request or dedication you can let me know and it will be put on the next show. When I talked to Alison Curtis from today fm on the phone a couple of months ago, I mentioned this, and she gave me some good tips on how I can use it to my advantage. She really has been a great inspiration in many ways.

I have two very busy weeks ahead, including a weekend in Dublin and one in London. I might have to go to Dublin earlier than planned on Friday, to bring our Spanish student to meet his parents, so I’m trying to organise things I can do in the afternoon. That should be interesting, but more about why I’m going there next week. I’ve went on far too long now!

ps. My almost three year old nephew wants to call his new baby brother or sister cakeface! That’s just a little bit strange, but makes me laugh every time he says it.

What’s the difference?

Irish guide dog owners were contacted by the organisation last week, informing us about a change in the structure of the organisation because of a reduction in funding. Some redundancies will have to be made, but we are assured that it won’t affect the services we receive as clients. I have my doubts, but that’s a whole other debate!
People on the mailing list reacted strongly to this news, and brought up some interesting points. The list, as well as conversations I’ve had with guide dog owners from other countries made me wonder how the organisations differ. Every guide dog organisation obviously has the same aims, which are to provide trained dogs to guide people who are blind or visually impaired. The way they carry out this training, how they are funded and what happens after dog and owner qualify can be quite different in different parts of the world. I’m going to explain briefly how the Irish organisation works, and maybe if people leave comments we can see how other places are similar or different.
Yes, I’m bored!

When you apply for a guide dog in Ireland, you are required to fill out a lot of paperwork and complete a medical exam. You will meet a trainer who will ask a lot of questions: They will want to know about your lifestyle, personality, how much mobility you currently have and how much work you will have for the dog. They look at physical aspects such as your height, weight, walking speed, tone of voice and ability to correct the dog and follow its commands. They use all this information to match you with a suitable dog when it is fully trained and qualified. You usually go to meet the dog a few weeks before training, and go for a walk to make sure you are both a good match, though I know this didn’t always happen in the past.

The training in the residential centre in Cork can last up to three weeks, depending on how smoothly things go and if you have had a dog before. Classes are usually made up of between two and eight people. These can be first-time guide dog owners, previous dog users or a combination of both. I think a small number of clients have trained only from home, but I presume it wasn’t with their first dog. After the residential training, dog and owner will return home, where the trainer will provide training in your local area. When this is complete, you should be visited by a trainer within the first six months, and then once a year for the rest of your dog’s working life. If problems occur in the meantime you can request more aftercare from a trainer.

Guide dog owners pay just 1 euro for their dog. They are technically still owned by the organisation. Boarding at the centre costs 10 euros a week, and you get some of the dog’s equipment, i.e lead collar and harness free. You can purchase beds, feeding bowls, toys etc from the centre if you want. I assume that the organisation keeps costs so low because owning a guide dog shouldn’t depend on whether you can afford it or not. A lot of people with sight loss are unemployed or in lower paid jobs than sighted people. They shouldn’t be denied a dog because of their income.
Most of the organisation’s funds come from fundraising, with a small per centage of funds given by the government. Guide dog owners are not obliged to fundraise, though most are happy to help out with this.

I’m just curious to know how it works in other areas. Are their parts of the Irish guide dog system that you don’t agree with? How do other organisations deal with financial problems? Is there an ideal way to run a guide dog training school?